Stars Over Yosemite

The first time I went stargazing was at the age of 15, which is rather late compared to most people. A good reason for this might be thanks to the fact that I live in a pretty big city, hence light pollution is a real big issue.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the urban suburban vibe where I live, but it really isn’t ideal for stargazing. Here, staring up at the sky at even the darkest times of the day only allowed me to see a handful of stars, so growing up, thats how I thought things were–just a few stars here and there randomly scattered across the sky. It took 15 years for me to realize that I was completely wrong.

When my family and I first planned our trip to Yosemite, stargazing was not on our to-do list. It wasn’t until I remembered about the rusty, basic telescope I had gotten for my birthday quite a while ago did I realize maybe lugging it along with me to Yosemite would be a good idea. Later on, I found out that there just so happened to be a stargazing ranger talk called Stars Over Yosemite at Glacier Point the same night we were staying there. Perfect, I could use my telescope to look out at the stars. And so, just like that, stargazing fell onto our to-do list.

At first, I was a bit hesitant on what I would really see; my mind still thought the sky only had the handful of stars I saw everyday outside of my house. I was quickly proven wrong.

I sat on the steps of the amphitheater of Glacier Point mesmerized by the astonishing view of the sunset over Half Dome. The sunset slowly faded dimming the sky, and one by one, the stars appeared as if they were light switches being turned on. It wasn’t long before every direction had a cluster of stars waiting for me.

For the first time, I saw and recognized the Big Dipper, as well as the North Star. I thought this was very impressive, and then I flipped my head around and saw the Milky Way. At first sight, I was overwhelmed. It felt as if everything I had learned about astronomy, constellations, stars, galaxies, and space from books, encyclopedias, and the internet came together during this moment. It all felt so much more real than it ever had. It was almost as if I had entered into a photo of the Milky Way on Google, only that it really was not a photo. The longer I stared into the sky, the more stars I saw. I even caught sight of shooting stars and the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

I never ended up using my telescope for various reasons. Firstly, it just simply wasn’t necessary since everything could be seen with the naked eye; that’s how clear and bright everything was. Secondly, even if I did need it, my telescope turned out to be in no way powerful enough to see the stars.

Space had always been a big mystery to me. Everything I learned about it was mind-boggling and hard to comprehend without being able to physically see it for myself. I found it hard to believe that the same sky I had looked up at everyday for 15 years was the same sky people claimed to see constellations, planets, and the Milky Way. Of course, the Stars Over Yosemite experience changed everything. Space, specifically the part concerning stars, constellations, galaxies, and planets, is becoming just a slight bit less mysterious. I guess this makes me one of those people who need to see to believe.

Adelina Chau

Hi! My name is Adelina, and I am a junior at Archbishop Mitty High School. I enjoy coding and dancing. I really love pandas and rollercoasters. In my free time, I like to bake and to listen to Cpop and Kpop songs.